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Ray Alder - What the Water Wants

Ray Alder
What the Water Wants
by Eric Poulin at 21 November 2019, 11:27 PM

RAY ALDER has been a vocal powerhouse for quite some time in the heavy metal realm, he is best known for his talents in one of my all-time favorite progressive metal bands FATES WARNING, so when I heard he was releasing his first solo album, I was definitely I intrigued in how it would resemble or differentiate itself from his progressive metal projects (see also REDEMPTION). This solo album is entitled “What the Water Wants” and was released on October 18th, 2019 through Inside Out Music.

The Opener “Lost” starts off with some groovy bass and slide guitar effects that transition into slower rhythmic patterns. Alder’s vocals sound amazing in the softer portions and he carefully uses his screams at this point of his career. Overall, this a very light opening piece, but effective in its dark essence and nature. The bass lines in “Crown of Thorns” are put front stage for everyone to hear and are intertwined with some electronic atmospherics. There is a bit more of an industrial vibe in this song that in some ways does remind me a bit of FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY. Again, the overall tempo of the song remains relatively slow and it does not take away from the passion in the lyrics and the vocal delivery.

“Some Days” follows a similar pattern, but indulges a bit more in the PINK FLOYD side of things, or even post-rock elements. The structure is akin to the previous songs and even though I have mentioned this a few times before, what makes a huge difference, is how the vocals are at the forefront of the composition. The best to describe this song is a simpler GORDIAN KNOT piece with vocals. “Shine” takes a completely different and heavier approach. In your face riffs right at the start and some well-composed transitional rhythm parts as well. This one will definitely make FATES WARNING fans happy, as it shares the heaviness and the emotions we have come to love from that band. This is one of my favorite tracks on the album by far. A very memorable chorus that only Alder can deliver with this much precision and care.

“Under Dark Skies” goes back to a more progressive tone, while still heavy in sound, decides to take a different route in the vocal parts as Alder does not push the high notes this time around. I guess you could compare this track to some of the slower DREAM THEATER compositions. Nothing out of the ordinary here but it falls into place in the overall scheme of the album. “A Beautiful Lie” is a more heavy/alternative track that is faster than some of its predecessors on the album. The chorus has an IRON MAIDEN feel to it, as much of the song structure is actually. Straightforward song that gets from point A to point B with no questions asked. My second favorite song.

“The Road” uses some electronic keyboards effects among reverberating acoustics and is the one true ballad on the album, probably one of the most underrated aspects of FATES WARNING, and it has that same quality here. While I am not usually a big fan of these type of songs, I find Alder always does them justice in his delivery. “Wait” has a pounding guitar sound in its intro, combined with a lot of heartfelt anger in the vocals, to the point where his voice almost scratches. An enjoyable track with some nice transitions and a sincere chorus.

“What The Water Wanted” has a bit of that nu-metal/groove side to it. It is about as modern as I have ever heard musically on this effort and could be compared to JAMES LABRIE’s solo efforts when the sound was more SOILWORK-oriented. Lastly, we have “The Killing Floor”, a dark “proggy” number that closes off the album in an interesting way as it matches the heavier parts with the more atmospheric passages on the album.

Overall, it is very difficult to avoid any comparisons to Alder’s other projects, but it is also very different in its tones and musical direction. If you have enjoyed his other bands, I do not see why you would not appreciate this album. It is not a fast album overall, but it delivers on all levels in the quality of music presented here.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Lost
2. Crown of Thorns
3. Some Days
4. Shine
5. Under Dark Skies
6. A Beautiful Lie
7. The Road
8. Wait
9. What The Water Wanted
10. The Killing Floor
Ray Alder - Vocals
Tony Hernando – Guitars
Craig Anderson – Drums
Mike Abdow - Guitars
Record Label: Inside Out Music


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Edited 04 December 2022

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